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The Handigondi Rock near Ramanagram

As you may already be aware, the Bangalore based foundation 'Sanghamitra Buddha Foundation' is planning on carving up the West face of Handigondi rock, 40 kms. South West of Bangalore, into a massive Buddha statue. Ostensibly the reason is to compensate for the destruction of Bamiyan Buddha statues in Afghanistan by the Taliban.

What is not revealed officially is that this is not the only statue to be carved out. Surrounding rocks will meet a similar fate as the project proposes carving out busts of Mahatma Gandhi, Ambedkar and other national figures and locating them in a setting that reflects a Buddhist retreat. But because this novelty may soon fade off public memory, and perhaps may not generate enough revenue, it is rumoured that the Foundation proposes to develop over 2000 acres of land around these rocks into a Film City set on the Sholay film landscape.

Surely, it is the 21st century, when ancient saints, modern day freedom fighters and matinee idols could bask together in historical glory, compromising, in the process, a geological marvel of great antiquity and aiding the elimination of threatened bird species. That the impact of Talibanisation of religion would result in caricaturizing of holy figures and statesmen, wasn�t quite the imagination one expected to come so soon. But business is business.

About the Rock

The Handigondi rock at 1050 Ft., is the highest rock in the range, easily visible from Bangalore, and an integral part of its landscape and lore. Any rock climber who has been initiated in this region, regards the scaling of the west face as an impressive achievement. And for no ordinary reason: the west face is almost completely vertical, thus trying muscle and mind against 2.5 billion years of weathering. For naturalists, this is a region that immediately needs to be protected from any disturbance as two highly threatened birds - the white backed vulture and the yellow throated bulbuls � are found here. Destroy the rock, and you will destroy the nesting grounds of the vulture.

About the Sanghamitra Foundation

The Sanghamitra Buddha Foundation have been rather brisk in raising funds for the project, what with Shah Rukh Khan, Rani Mukherjee, et. al. performing in Bangalore end April in a concert tastelessly titled TEMPTATION. It was a grand success as most who attended did not know where their entertainment money was going. As for the artistes, clearly they had exposed their ignorance, or disrespect, whichever be the case, for laws and loss of nature. Crores of rupees were raised, and will continue to be raised, if the process is allowed to continue. See their website for more details on their proposed project.

ESG is an independent not-for-profit organisation that promotes the cause of environmental and social justice through research, documentation, advocacy, training and campaign support. We aim to support the rights of local communities and voiceless ecosystems in a responsible, progressive manner that keeps contextual complexities in mind.